Affordable Insurance Enrollment Changes On The Horizon
By Dr.Bruce Theall
January 12, 2015
Category: Insurance
Tags: enrollment   affordable   medicaid  

One month into the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period at least 6.4 million people have already signed up for 2015 health plans. The number includes 1.9 million people who are first time customers on Healthcare.gov. Although the ACA enrollment period just re-opened the administration is starting to lay down new laws for how the enrollment will work in the future. These laws will change how many people will sign up for coverage. The first enrollment period ran from Oct.1,2013 to March 31. The second enrollment period now underway will run half as long, starting on Nov.15th and is scheduled to end on Feb 15. The Obama administration says that in 2015 the enrollment will run from Oct.1 through Dec.15th each year.

In the future, all health plans purchased in the enrollment window will start on Jan.1 of the following year. Under the current enrollment window, if you purchase a plan on Dec.15 your coverage starts on Jan.1 but if  you purchase a health plan on Dec.16, you have to wait until Feb.1 for your coverage to kick in. This will be less complicated for exchanges and issuers to implement. However there are some experts who think that having people sign up for health insurance during the fall is a bad idea in the first place. Late fall is one of the most financially and emotionally stressful times of the year, particularly for people with limited incomes due to the pressures of buying presents , travel and the onset of winter home-heating bills between Thanksgiving and New Year's. These are not months when lower-income households have extra money for paying premiums for health insurance plans that begin the following January.

Some ACA advocates and tax preparers like Jackson Hewitt have been urging the Obama administration to set health -care enrollment period that more closely aligns  with tax season, citing a few reasons. People in tax season will learn whether they're paying the ACA penalty for not having health insurance, so they may make the calculation that they'd rather get coverage. Also people receiving tax refunds may then feel like they have the financial flexibility to purchase private coverage.  The ACA believes that fully aligning the open enrollment period with the tax filing period would significantly increase enrollment. The important message here is that HHS has only proposed the change so far and is asking for feedback on this provision. Given the importance of the enrollment window and those who've spoken up, it will be interesting to see if this rule sticks. You can feel free to contact Gentle Touch Foot Care to get more details on insurance enrollment.

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